What the Media is getting wrong about Kindle Unlimited

Amazon is one of those love em or hate em kind of companies, or so the media would have us believe. The truth for most writers is, I think, a lot more nuanced than that. A lot of indie writers have made careers thanks to Kindle Direct Publishing. And yet at the same time, they know that having all your eggs in one basket is a dangerous mistake. Other writers have made careers in traditional publishing, and when Amazon and Hachette had their dispute it was hard not to wonder how it was going to affect them. Still, at the end of the day we all understand that Amazon is a business with it’s own business interests. It’s an enormously successful business and it’s decision affect every writer, so we pay attention to anything it does.

That said, I am growing tired of how every Amazon related piece of news is spun to either show how much we love or hate the retailer. Kindle Unlimited has become the latest victim to this spin, even when that’s not what the very authors are saying.

According to the spin the Kindle Unlimited program has opened a huge riff with the indie community. We are being treated like second class citizens. Big name authors like H. M. Ward and even Joe Konrath are up in rebellion, leaving the program in droves.

There is some truth to all this. A select few authors have been allowed in the Kindle Unlimited program without exclusivity but most of us have to choose, enroll in select and have our books become Amazon exclusives or opt out. A few publishers have been offered their full cut on each borrow, the average indie gets paid out of a pot.

There are just a couple of problems with the spin. The first is that while many authors are disappointed with the way this program is working out, they don’t hate Amazon because of it. Even those pulling their books from the program aren’t pulling their books from Amazon. Even those praising the program are cognizant that it hasn’t been good for everyone.

The bigger problem with the spin is that it’s missing the central idea, the program isn’t working. It’s not an Amazon-is-a-terrible-company sort of problem. It’s not that indies are being mistreated. The program should be a good tool for indies wanting to get discovered, but it’s not working out that way.

Why isn’t it working? If we screw the spin and go straight to the source we see the problem. H. M. Ward pulled her books for two reasons, borrows weren’t paying enough and her sales were dropping. In fact, her sales plus her borrows were dropping.

I am nowhere near as popular as H. M. Ward, but I can see her point. The first couple of months I saw a lot of borrows and I got paid enough on each borrow that it was close to what my royalties were. Then borrows started to drop. Now, I can’t say that it’s worth it to stay in the program.

This combination of dropping pay out and dropping borrows points to a more specific problem then how Amazon treats indies. I think the issue has to do with the ratio of readers to writers. Most of the bloggers so far have focused on the huge number of indie authors jumping into the program, and the giant pile of books available. Not only is this disingenuous, since none of those writers is going to stop putting their books into the program, it misses the other side of the equation. How many readers have opted into the subscription service? I am guessing the pace adoption on the consumer side simply hasn’t kept up with the number of authors. That would explain the dropping payouts.

And it points to the real issue with a reader subscription service. I am not just a writer, but an avid reader as well. I opted in with the Kindle Unlimited early on. I loved it for about a month. I read a half dozen or more of the big names they recruited into the program, books I’d wanted to read for sometime because of the hype around them (like the Hunger Games books) but hadn’t wanted to buy. Then I started sampling from the large library of available books, many of them by indie authors. I got passed the ten percent mark, where the author gets paid, on many of them. But I didn’t fall in love with any of them either.

A couple months later I realized that I had stopped borrowing books and gone back to buying them. I just got tired of sorting through hundreds of titles that I might possible want to read and returned to picking out, and paying for, the ones I knew I wanted to read. I got tired of passing by books that I wanted to read, because they weren’t free. Just using KU, I could save money. But having some KU books and some bought books, I was losing money. In the end it wasn’t worth it. I cancelled my subscription.

And that is the problem with a reader subscription service. Books are a huge investment of time, even if they are free. That’s why libraries never destroyed bookstores. Readers don’t seem to care that there are thousands of books available for free at the local library. They only care about the few books that they want right now. The bookstore does a better job of providing those titles. So readers go there and fork over cash.

Libraries stay open because they are publically funded. Do you think it’s possible to have a subscription based library with monthly fees? It hasn’t worked so far. I think Amazon will discover the same thing with KU.

I know, Pandora, Spotify, changing the music industry, blah, blah, blah. Maybe Amazon will eventually pull this one off, maybe they will get around consumer reluctance and author concerns and make Kindle Unlimited work.

As a reader, I’ve ditched Kindle Unlimited. I’m not sure what would bring me back. As an author, I’m leaving some of my YA books in the program, and I will continue to monitor how it works. But I am not intending to put any of my new books in.

Contrary to what the media might say, it doesn’t mean I hate Amazon.

 

What’s to Come in 2015

I can’t believe it’s almost 2015 already. 2014 has been a really good year. I put out four books in 2014. The Best Boy Ever Made came out in February and it’s been my best selling book so far. Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp followed in April. Rosie and the Quarry Ghost came out in late summer and The Mage Chronicles just this month.

I’ve been transitioning from mostly writing YA to mostly writing science fiction and fantasy. In 2013 I released my first book as R. J. Eliason. In 2014 it was even, two YA novels as Rachel Eliason and two fantasy novels as R. J. Eliason. 2015 will be slanted even more towards fantasy. I have four books I plan to publish in 2015 and three of them will be under R. J. Eliason. When they come out is the three and half thousand dollar question.

Bear Naked 3: The Hunter and the Hunted

The next installment in the Bear Naked saga is almost ready to go. It’s with beta readers now and I am starting to get the feedback I need to clean up the final pieces of the story. I hope to have it to my editor by the first of the year and publish it sometime this spring.

Blurb:

When Uncle Darren goes missing on a winter camping trip, it’s up to Amanda and her gang to find him. The only problem is that where he went missing is Idaho, that’s Skinwalker territory and the Native American cousins aren’t always friendly with to Werewolves.

Children of a New Earth

This is the first novel I ever wrote. Like most first novels, it’s taken dozens of rewrites and a lot of work to make it good enough to publish. It is finally ready for the editor. It is a post apocalyptic novel with a twist.

Blurb:

Amy Beland has grown up constantly at odds with the men and the views of Freedom Ranch, a survivalist enclave buried deep in the Rocky Mountains. And yet it will fall to her to journey outside their valley for the first since the society collapsed, before she was even born, to save the ranch.

The Banner of Kash

The Banner of Kash is the next Gilded Empire book. It begins a trilogy of interconnected stories about the gnome race.

Blurb:

Kendran has been a ranger in the Border Legions for over twenty five years, ever since his brother caught him with another man. Now he’s been called back to the reservation because the same brother is in trouble. He must walk a world of divided loyalties and old race hatreds to learn the truth about an ancient relic of his people, the Banner of Kash.

The Agony, The Ecstasy and the Buddha.

A memoir about my month in Thailand, having a sex change operation. It’s been done in rough form for some time and is almost ready to for it’s final edits. I will likely publish it under Rachel Eliason.

The Three and a Half Thousand Dollar Question

When will these books be out? Well, I don’t know. Three are essentially ready for the editor. The fourth could be made ready with one hard push, maybe a few weeks.

As an indie author I pay for the editing, cover design, etc. up front. Once I’ve paid those costs, I get the lion’s share of the benefit. That’s the good part. The bad part is, I pay those cost up front. It’s not exactly cheap either. I generally estimate a little over a thousand dollars per book.

If you look at the costs individually, about half my books have broke even and are now making me money. The other books are on track to break even and I have faith they will all at least make as much money as I spent putting them out.

Collectively they earn me a small but steady side income. I am hoping that my business as a whole will break even and become profitable within the next couple years.

The challenge is that books don’t start earning money until they are out, after you’ve spent the up front cost. So the fastest way to earn money is to get the books out, but that requires having the money to put the books out.

Which brings us to the three and a half thousand dollar question. Can I find that much money? If so, should I spend it all at once and get the three nearly ready books on the market? Or should I wait and put them out as I can afford to, later in the year? I haven’t quite decided yet.

My Writing in 2015

Writing a book is a long project. I already have many of the books I will write in 2015 in the planning stages, with an eye towards what I will publish in 2016. Bear Naked is a series and book four is in planning stages. It might even be ready for fall of 2015, but I haven’t decided yet. The Banner of Kash is a trilogy and book two has been started in planning stages as well.

I have a science fiction series I want to start this year as well. It’s about first contact with the Galactic Consortium. It will be serialized in an episodic format, like a television series. The first “season” is the Girl in the Tank.

Blurb:

Leaving her children with an increasingly deadbeat husband and their sometimes dysfunctional grandmother is just one of the hardships of military service, Cheyenne Walker knows this. When conflict arises between the Consortium and China over the island of Taiwan, America is drawn in as uneasy Allies. A Chinese Nuclear Sub rises less than two hundred feet off the bow of the aging Burke Class Destroyer, the Cambridge, and Cheyenne’s duty as gunner, however painful, is clear. She must destroy the missile.

She finds herself floating in a Consortium medical tank, wondering if they really have the technology to rebuild her broken body, wondering if the political situation will stay stable enough for her to ever get back to America, or if she will see her kids again.

Stateside she is herald as a hero. On board the medical evac ship Corelean she struggles with divided loyalties and a growing attraction to her master healer, Lana. Will she return to America and the life she knew, or forge a new one among the stars?

Why Buying Likes Hurts Everyone

(Re-published from my Nuts and Bolts Newsletter)

As Social Media marketing has become vital for advertisers, a black market has emerged. It is a black market in likes, friends and followers. It exists on almost every platform. You can buy Twitter followers, Facebook friends, likes for a post, retweets, you name it.

Why do people buy likes?

There are three reasons why people buy likes, friends or followers on social media platforms. The first two are dishonest and the third is stupid.

Companies buy likes and followers to give their company an inflated imagine online. For example let’s say you just started an online dating site. You have recruited every developer, friend and family member you could and you have 35 members. Who is going to join a dating site with almost no potential dates? So you pay some website to get you tens of thousands of Twitter followers. That way when potential customers see you on Twitter they assume there are thousands of people on your site.

Many websites survive on advertising. Banner ads and sidebar ads pay the bills and allow the creators to do their thing. How much you can reasonably charge for a banner ad depends on how much reach you have. Remember reach equals how many people see what you do. By buying likes and followers, some dishonest bloggers inflate their reach and overcharge their sponsors.

Finally many newbies to the social media marketing game simply don’t know any better. They know they need a big reach to get sales, but they don’t fully understand how it works. They are drawn in by ads for thousands of followers. So they buy likes and then sit back and wonder why sales aren’t coming in.

Where do paid likes come from?

One of the big problems with paid reach is where these likes come from. They mostly come from “click farms” in third world countries. Yes, you read that right. They have sweatshops in third world countries where people are paid to sit and like things on facebook, all day, every day for up to twelve hours a day. It sounds insane, but it’s true.

When I first encountered the idea of paying for Twitter followers, I couldn’t understand how it could possibly be a sustainable business for anyone. You can find people offering up to a thousand new followers on websites like fivver.com. A thousand followers for five dollars? It sounds cheap.

I could offer that service. All it would take is for me to have a thousand separate accounts on Twitter. The only thing Twitter requires is an email address. I could easily spend a couple of days on Google or hotmail creating email accounts and then using them to produce Twitter accounts. All for five dollars. Thanks but no thanks.

The economy in places like Bangladesh, where many of these click farms are, makes it feasible. The average income in Bangladesh is 840 U.S. Dollars a year. Clicking farming is not only feasible, for some it is preferable to other forms of labor available.

 

The problem with paid reach

I have said before that buying likes is a fools errand. But it’s more than that, it hurts everyone. There are a number of reasons. But first, why is it a fools errand?

The simple answer is that a purchased followers isn’t going to buy your book, pure and simple.

But a paid follower doesn’t just waste your money once, they waste it over and over again. Every time you craft a new blog post, create a new ad campaign or run some sort of online promotion, a share of that effort goes to your paid followers, who promptly delete it.

If that’s not bad enough, they dilute your organic reach. Organic reach refers to how much reach you have without promoting a given post. Organic reach means fans, people who want to engage with you. Since platforms like Facebook only show your posts to handful of your fan, even a small number of fake friends can mean none of your real fans see your awesome posts. And that is sad.

If you have fallen for buying likes or followers in the past, now is the time to clean up your newsfeed. Twitter Audit will check your Twitter account for fake accounts. They even have premium services that will help you unfollow the ones you don’t want. I don’t know of any automated way to check your facebook feed but here’s a great article on how to spot fake accounts. Eliminating fake accounts from your friends list, your fan page and your twitter account will help improve your targeted advertising, getting your book in front of the people who actually want to buy it.

Paid reach hurts everyone

If paid reach only hurt those foolish enough to pay for it, I would let them go. But it hurts all of us. There are several reasons.

Paid reach is eroding consumer confidence. The average person is no fool. They catch on to tricks quick enough. A blogger friend of mine took a radical feminist group to the carpet on this recently. They had a hundred thousand likes on their facebook page, mostly from men in Bangladesh. Its hard to believe that excluding trans women from a minor feminist conference could get that much international support. My point is, people do notice. And it affects their view of social media in general.

Paid reach dilutes organic reach for everyone as well. Paid likes is against the terms of service on both Facebook and Twitter. There is a constant cat and mouse chase as those platforms seek to eliminate fake accounts. Suspicious accounts get suspended or deleted. As a countermeasure, click farms instruct their people to like lots of things, not just what they are paid to like. That prevents Facebook from picking up on them so quickly. You might well have a few followers/fans from Bangladesh. The first time I saw one I thought I had become an international sensation. More likely it was a click farm employee trying to imitate a real person with a few random likes. Here is a great video that illustrates this well.

The large amount of paid reach out there also dilutes advertisers confidence. That doesn’t affect the indie writer so much, but it threatens many bloggers. Their ad revenue is based on reach, but as advertisers realize how little reach is authentic, they are less willing to pay.

Fake likes hurts your fan base. I like pages on Facebook because I want to be kept informed about authors I like. However it doesn’t work anymore, because Facebook now decides what I see and it may be sharing news about some new release with a click farm worker in Indonesia instead of telling me.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, fake likes hurts the people who work in the click farms. We already have too many industries built upon sweatshop labor. Do we really want to create another, virtual one? Clicking on web pages might be better than sewing fashion garments or assembling iphones, but it’s still not a real career. There are much better and more humane ways to support third world economies than buying twitter followers.

As you wade through the social media landscape you will find yourself at times awash in people wanting to sell you followers, likes and what not. It’s not worth it at any price. If we spread the word and get everyone on the don’t buy likes bandwagon, we can keep social media marketing effective for many years to come.

 

The End of an Era (and a site)

 

 

Wiredthatwaylogo1

For nearly two years I wrote a column for Accessline Iowa called Wired That Way. The column was about the intersection of technology and the LGBT community. It was great fun to write. It was also my first experience with a real editor and I learned a lot about writing.

I set up a website to go along with the blog and to provide a space for extra writing. I envisioned it leading to a sideline as a tech blogger.

My mother used to tell me, you can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want. Funny how we never appreciate these tidbits of wisdom until we are older, right?

While writing that column and blogging on that website, I was also working on a couple of YA novels. I never forgot my first love, sci fi and fantasy, either.

My first novel came out and it got decent reviews and sales, enough to encourage me to put more time and focus into fictional writing. The Accessline went to an all digital format and I decided that was a good time to bow out of my column. The website remained and for a long while I continued to post regularly.

Can you make it a business out of blogging? Lots of people do, but it’s a full time job. Can you make a business out of writing novels? Certainly, but again it’s a lot of work. My mom’s words of wisdom have become increasingly important to my writing career. I could do one or the other, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to both. So Wired That Way has taken a backseat to fiction. Contemporary YA novels are slowly taking a backseat to fantasy and science fiction. So it goes.

Wired That Way was hosted through a different company as my other websites. As of December 2014, my hosting account came up for renewal and I just couldn’t justify a two year contract on a website I don’t use anymore. So I’ve redirected the site here for now. This is the site I am most active on, and where what tech writing I do will likely go. Maybe in time I will create a new wordpress site on this host for Wired That Way, but for right now I am going to combine it with this site.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

Cover Reveal: The Mage Chronicles

It’s here! The final cover for The Mage Chronicles:

Mage Chron front cover

The Gilded Empire: A magical empire so ancient it’s name has been forgotten to the mist of time. Its citizens believe they are in their golden age, but already the rot is showing underneath the gold veneer.

The Mage Chronicles: A mage level healer, Mary is unprepared when the Council of Mages wants her to intervene in a border dispute in a distant part of the empire. What does she know of nobility or war? Not one to back down, she must confront the harsh realities of life outside the central core, a legion of unstoppable warriors and the ghosts of her own past.

Coming soon!

Check out Aidana WillowRaven’s artwork on her webpage and see all the other incredible covers she’s done. 

 

The Tale of the Long Tail

Republished from my Nuts and Bolts newsletter:

My recent article on Amazon resulted in one reader sending me feedback about a marketing book, Write, Publish, Repeat. It had been on my wishlist and I have since picked it up and read it. Thanks, Mike Cody for the suggestion.

One of the terms they introduce in the beginning is the long tail. It’s a term several of the popular Indie marketing gurus use. They describe the benefits of working the long tail in slightly different ways. Let’s explore the long tail of ebook publishing.

What is the long tail?

Remember the link I gave that estimated actual sales based on Amazon sales rank? I plotted that chart on a simple x,y graph. Here is what it looks like.

longtale

What we see is a very uneven distribution of sales. The bestseller sell upwards of 4,000 copies a day. The number five seller is half that. As a books sales rank drops, so do sales – by a huge margin. And this is Amazon, the great equalizer.

As far as I can tell, publishing has always been like this. It has always slanted heavily towards a few blockbusters. A few books sell enormously well. Most books sell much less.

In publishing lingo the huge sales at the top of the chart is the big head and the line heading down the ranks is the long tail. This always makes me think of Godzilla.

godzilla

Traditional publishing has always been focussed on the big head. They are constantly seeking the next big thing. Bestsellers have good profit margins, most other books don’t. It’s kind of that simple.

Traditional publishing has a much shorter tail. There are three important reasons. Retail stores don’t keep books in stock if they don’t sell. Publishers aren’t interested in publishing books that have a limited audience. Publishers only publish so many books a year, and they often limit how many come from a single author.

Ebooks and indie publishing has turned this on its head. Now many indie authors are thriving on the long tail. The reasons parallel the reasons that publishers aren’t interested in the tail.

Joe Konrath’s tail

Joe Konrath’s blog, a newbie’s guide to publishing, is the bible for many indie writers. Joe talks about the long tail of publishing on his blog. He emphasizes the notion that ebooks are forever.

In the old days new releases came out four times a year. For three months, your book was a new release. For that short sweet time you might be displayed at the front of the bookstore for the world to see. When the next set of releases arrived, your book would likely be packed off to the regular shelves, spine out, where almost no one would see it. Worse yet, if your book wasn’t selling the bookstore might send it back.

Books were produced in large print runs from five to fifty thousand books. If your first print run didn’t sell out and the publisher started to see returns, they weren’t going to risk another print run. As little six months to year after your release, your book could be effectively out of print.

Ebooks never go out of print. They kind of, sort of, go to the back of the bookstore, in that they quickly disappear off most lists if they don’t have a great sales rank. But digital shelf space is unlimited and all books are displayed covers out. Your book will be there forever.

And forever, Joe says, is a long time. Most authors will eventually do better on their own, he argues, over time. Let’s say Author A is traditionally published. Her publisher prints 10,000 copies of her books and place them in bookstores all over the country. Over the course of a year, half those books sell. 5,000 sales is respectable but no where near selling out her first print run and it’s unlikely they will keep that title in print for long.

Author B decides to take a chance on the indie market. Over the same time period she sells a fraction of that number, five hundred books in her first year. But because of the long tail of publishing, she may well continue to sell at that rate indefinitely. In ten years she will have outsold Author A and her book is still on the market and selling.

Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant’s long tail

Ten years is a long time to wait for a payoff. Hopefully Author B hasn’t been sitting around twiddling her thumbs and dreaming of the day she will outsell her rival. Hopefully she’s been writing. When Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant introduce the long tail in Write. Publish. Repeat. This is their take on the tail. Indie authors don’t have to wait on a publisher to decide to publish them. They can keep writing and publishing new works on their schedule.

I know a mystery writer who has a book that’s been contracted with a publisher for over two years. It keeps getting bogged down in production issues or pushed off til the next release cycle. That may be an extreme case, but traditional publishing is definitely slow. It takes months for books to get out.

In the past, some publisher would only accept one submission from an author in a year. They felt that authors who wrote three or four books a year were sacrificing quality for speed. Never mind that the paltry advances and poor royalties made it impossible for the average writer to live on one book a year.

Sean and Johnny argue you can live out on the tail of publishing if you just keep writing. Don’t expect sales on one title to pay your bills. Keep working until you have ten or more books out. Modest sales on a number of titles ends up being the same money as huge sales on a single title.

Let’s end with a naughty tale, shall we?

The final great thing about the long tail of ebooks is that it makes really niche sort of books viable. In the past publishers wouldn’t touch certain genres or subjects because there weren’t enough consumers.

The low production cost on ebooks and print on demand, coupled with world wide distribution online, makes some tiny niche genres profitable for some people. So if you write unusual books, take heart.

Erotica has come out of the shadows with success of Fifty Shades of Gray. But what if you write something a little more niche, like tentacle erotica. Yes, that’s a thing.

How many people read those books? I can’t say, but I doubt its a large number. It doesn’t matter. If even a thousand people in the entire world read that sort of stuff, and you can brand yourself as the “best tentacle erotica writer” (there is a title that will make mom proud) you can write and sell a thousand books.

Tentacle erotica fits the quirky mood I am in as I write this but there are hundreds of other, better, more pedestrian examples. From small genres, cross-genre fiction, special interest topics to historical poor selling books, writers are succeeding in surprising ways. A new breed of authors are carving out niches for themselves all over the long tail of publishing.

If you are one of the many indie authors that are struggling to get noticed or get sales, take heart. Be patient. Keep writing. Don’t write what you think people will read, go out and find people who read the kind of books you write. You can make it thanks to the long tail of publishing.

 

Three Reasons I am Aggressively Building my Email List

And why, if you are a writer, you should too.

email-icon-isolated-13761939

I am working hard on building up a strong email list. By working hard, I am re-writing my appeal, creating a more central space on my website for that appeal and most importantly, I am giving away copies of my next book for free.

Why am I trying to build my list. Here are three simple reasons.

1. An email list is yours.

Email lists are platform independent. Many indie writers are too dependent on social media or a web platform (like a blogging site or retail site.) What happens if those sites change or disappear? It’s happened before and likely it will happen again.

Jeff Bezzo has said so. In an interview about Amazon.com’s disruption of traditional publishing he admitted that it was not only likely that some new site would someday disrupt and replace Amazon, it was inevitable.

These disruptions can be painful for both writers and readers. When Facebook changed the algorithm it uses to show posts, many bloggers and authors saw their page views plummet. But we aren’t the only ones who suffer. Fans who want to see our posts now don’t.

If you leave Facebook for whatever reason, there is almost no way to take your fan base with you. A tiny change in Google’s search engine could downgrade a popular website to obscurity. Amazon could change its royalty payouts (as critics keep fearing) and make it no longer profitable for Indies.

An email list is insurance against such disruptions. It’s the one thing you can download and walk away with. You can change social media focus, website and even retailer without losing those fans.

2. An email list takes a long time to build

Statistics show that authors with large email list make more money. I am more than a little suspicious of that statistic because it takes a long time to build a good email list, so those authors have likely been around longer and written more.

As I stick around longer and write more, that excuse is wearing thin. The fact that email lists take a long time to build is the best reason to get started now. Even if all you have is a half dozen emails and a short story on Wattpad to direct them to, start now. Your future self will thank you. When your books start coming out you will be ahead of the curve for once, not running to catch up.

3. Everyone’s doing it.

I don’t normally approve of peer pressure or doing what everyone else is doing, but I am making an exception here. One of my goals for 2014 was to learn book marketing. I’ve read dozens of books by successful Indie authors. They all agree on one point, email marketing is the most important first step.

 

So there you have it, three simple reasons why writers should have an email list. If you need more reasons, you will have to think of them yourself. I’ve got writing to do.

For readers, you can sign up for my newsletter and get a free copy of an epic fantasy.

 

 

Do you Nanowrimo? How about Octo-Fret-Mo?

I’ve done Nanowrimo for several years now. For those of you who don’t know the acronym Nanowrimo yet, it stands for National Novel Writers Month. Every November writers all over the world gather together and undertake the funnest, most insane challenge you can think of, write a fifty thousand word novel in a month. It’s a blast, even if you don’t manage to complete your novel. For more information, check their official webpage.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month


Over the last couple of years I’ve developed my own set of Nanowrimo traditions. I’ve decided to create a new acronym and holiday to go along with Nanowrimo. I’m calling it Octo-Fret-Mo. It is when you spend October fretting about the upcoming Nanowrimo.
I spend most of October wrapping up projects, working on back burner projects so that I don’t start a big project too soon and mostly, worrying about what I’m going to write for Nanowrimo this year.
Anyone else Octo-Fret-Mo? Let me know in the comments.
In the meanwhile, if you need to take your mind of your fretting, you can pick up my latest YA novel for free this weekend only. Check it out here.

The World Blog Tour

A huge thanks to author Stephen Brayton for including me in the world blog tour. His post can be found here. Stephen is author of Night Shadows:

Here are the four questions I was asked to answer for the tour:

1)What am I working on?

I am currently working on a novel about the Zombie Apocalypse.

 

2)How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I almost cringe when I say I am writing a Zombie novel because they are so popular. I am not one to jump on any bandwagon, and yet, I find myself writing a zombie novel.

My novel differs from most of the zombie novels and books I have encountered in three ways.

a) It’s part of a series and the series isn’t about zombies. It’s about apocalypses in general. The idea was to create a consistent setting and cast of characters and then compare how they do in various different apocalypse scenarios. This time its zombies, but next time it will be something else, a plague, a supervolcano, who knows.

b) Have you watched the show The Colony? It’s a reality show that puts a “cross section” of America into a post apocalyptic world to see how they would do. Their cross section includes some highly talented people including electrical engineers, handymen and martial arts experts. Where are the financial analysts, bankers, and stay at home moms?

The same problem exist with most zombie novels. The vast majority of America is not ready. How will they adapt and change? That is the focus of my novel. There are no heros. A few characters have survival skills. Most do not. Or they don’t think they do. They will discover, as the novel goes on, that some skills will translate into a post apocalyptic world but many will not. My story is about how ordinary people must learn to live in a very different world.

c) How does the zombie apocalypse get started anyway? Most novels and movies gloss over this point. They do this by jumping into the action and distracting the reader from asking hard questions. How do shambling beasts overtake the entire population? My novel has a timeline that goes from patient zero, the first zombie to the full blown apocalypse.

 

3)Why do I write what I do?

I write the stories that live in my head. I don’t have much choice about it sometimes. I am a lifelong day dreamer. I will catch myself dreaming a new story. I will let it go, let it grow in my mind until the idea just has to be written.

That said, I like characters who are quirky or different. I am really drawn to people who don’t fit in. The characters in my zombie novel are an eclectic group. Sometime they have nothing in common, or are even at odds with each other. When a national guardsman is called up to active duty, his conservative wife will be forced to rely on the help of the lesbian couple next door to survive. Can they learn to get along? We will see.

 

4)How does my writing process work?

I have heard it said that there are two kinds of writers, those who write by the seat of their pants and those who outline. I hate that saying because I do neither.

I am a storyboarder. I lay out my novels in a fluid, visual way. Scrivener is my favorite program to assist with this. I often start only knowing the main climax. One strong emotional image or scene is enough seed for an entire novel. I ponder the scene. Who is there? How did they get there? Why? Slowly I answer these questions and that suggests more scene. Each scene raises new questions that must be answered and the work continues.

I do this until I have the whole story fleshed out in my head. Then I write it all down. Its that simple.

Coming next week:

The World Blog Tour moves on to these two places:

A. R. Miller

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A.R. Miller is best known for her adult, contemporary fantasy series, Fey Creations. In the past, her short stories ranged from YA to erotica, all with supernatural overtones.

When she’s not finding ways to torture characters and drive readers crazy with cliffhanger endings, her life consists of mundane homeowner tasks, keeping up to date with the beauty community, helping out behind the scenes at the local library and reading. She also enjoys connecting with other readers and writers across the interwebs.

She lives in Central Iowa with her husband and feline companion.

 

http://feycreations.com

armiller@feycreations.com

 C. Deanne Rowe

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C. Deanne Rowe was born and raised in Southern Oklahoma. She has lived in Texas, Nebraska and Iowa, settling in Iowa after she attended Oklahoma State University and married her high school sweetheart.

Writing became a passion as she was growing up beginning with poetry and later short stories. Her dream of becoming a published author was realized later in life, but was as powerful of a dream then as when she was younger.

Her fondness for Cowboys was realized when she became the author of her first book Cowboy Temptation ~ Colt and Cassy, the first in her Cowboy Temptation Series. She is also known as one of The Stiletto Girls, which have published anthologies in The Stiletto Series. Her latest book In the Heart of Valley is also available.

www.cdeannerowe.com | cdeanne@cdeannerowe.com

Cheryl Corbin

Cheryl Corbin writes adventures set in other worlds, aka science fiction and fantasy stories. She lives in Iowa and works with her writing partner, Yuki, a Bichon Frise, though Yuki spends more time sleeping than contributing to the story in progress. You can find Cheryl at www.cherylcorbin.com

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A Quick Update on 2014

It’s hard to believe it’s almost summer. I had the goal at the start of this year to publish four new novels, two YA novels under Rachel Eliason and two fantasy novels under R. J. Eliason. Here’s the quick update.

The Best Boy Ever Made came out towards the end of January and it’s doing nicely. I have had several good reviews and sales are good. A huge thanks to all my YA fans for making that happen.

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